By Julian Wilde MBE, of Lytham
The children led the way. All the way from Barrow to Blackpool, from Lancaster to Lytham, they whooped and hollered and waved, equally oblivious to torrential rainfall and bucketsfull of cynicism, to greet the Olympic Torch.
All through a Friday of unrelenting downpours I wondered and fretted whether leafy Lytham could come up with a dry dawn for the Torch on Saturday.
Alarm set to 6am, 6.23am on bike to town centre. Weather windy but dry. At 6.55am a flotilla of blue flashing lights and over-the-top sponsors’ vehicles.
And at 7.04am there it was. The Olympic Torch in little old Lytham.
There were no fanfares, speeches or celebs where I was. Just thousands of ordinary folk who had jumped out of bed .
Just ordinary folk – at least apparently – carrying it. Everyone, yes, everyone, smiling.
Children cheered wildly and ran alongside excitedly all the way along Lytham Green.
It was superbly organised and, pleasingly, completely devoid of the “you can’t do that, stand over there, health and safety” restrictions.
Then, in an instant, at 7.15am it was gone, away to Warton, Preston and 35 more days’ travel around the country.
I felt like I had met a person. I felt that I had made a new friend, always a worthwhile experience – one whom I could in the future greet when I saw it on television.
The Olympic Flame, like time and tide, waits for no man and now it was gone, moving relentlessly forward to share its inspiration with others – but yes, it had been a little moment of history.
I was glad I had been there and, as I munched on a well-earned sausage sandwich at 7.32am and prepared to resume normal life, I suddenly realised I had no idea what the weather had been like.
The pealing of the bells at St. John’s Church opposite the Windmill was a welcome reminder that this had, indeed, been a real first-hand experience which will long linger in my memory bank, ready for a replay. Three cheers for all those children, drowned rats all of them, who greeted the Flame so uninhibitedly.
And if you, dear reader, missed it, make every effort to see it somewhere... unless you want to wait another 50 or 60 years.
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